It’s been drowned from the conversation by the drums of war against Syria, but the controversy over the IRS targeting conservative groups to benefit President Obama’s re-election efforts hasn’t been completely silenced.
An editorial on IBD.com Friday should help raise the volume again.
The editorial reported that in 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder and then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman personally conducted a “pep talk” in Washington for leaders of the nation’s black churches to coach them on how to use the church influence to get black voters to the polls without endangering the churches “non-political” tax-exempt status.
So the same IRS that was hounding anti-Obama tea party groups in Ohio for alleged political involvement that made their tax-exempt status questionable had a commissioner who was mentoring pro-Obama black churches how to stay just within the bounds of the law.
According to IBD, there is no evidence of direct White House involvement, but Holder’s personal presence – and his personal relationship with Obama — suggests it was considerable. And while the mainstream media makes much of the fact that Shulman was appointed by George W. Bush, he was also a frequent visitor to the White House in 2012, and his wife is a senior adviser to a lobbying firm with deep ties to unions and other liberal groups.
In short, this sounds like an Obama campaign operation using the offices of the United States government.
The U.S. tax code specifically prohibits churches from “participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office.” But the point of the Holder-Shulman seminars was to help them do just that, IBD reported.
“There are so many things that you can do and you should do,” Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., told the clergymen, according to IBD. “You are permitted to endorse a candidate in your individual capacity as a citizen. You can appear on a (TV or radio) program away from the church and be presented as the pastor. You can do that.”
According to IBD, Butterfield told the clergymen “the IRS does not have the authority to tell a church how it conducts its affairs.”
On the other hand, it can prod conduct in certain directions. In fact, the editorial quotes U.S. Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver telling an MSNBC interviewer at the time: “We want to let [the pastors] know that there is a theological responsibility to participate in the political process. We’re going to encourage them to encourage their people” to vote.
Interesting that Eric Holder and company have no qualms about telling clergymen about their theological responsibilities.
But it’s an encouragement that seems to have been limited to reliably liberal denominations, according to IBS.
“Non-black clergy were not afforded the same legal training in campaigning tactics by the Obama administration,” the editorial states.
Now, why would that be?